December 4, 2007 archive

An Annie Hall Moment: Krauthammer Contradicted By Groundbreaking Stem Cell Scientist

From Annie Hall:

. . .  MAN: Now, Marshall McLuhan–

WOODY ALLEN: You don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan's work–

MAN: Really? Really? I happen to teach a class at Columbia called TV, Media and Culture, so I think that my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity.

WOODY ALLEN: Oh, do you? . . . Oh, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here. Come over here for a second?

WOODY ALLEN: Tell him.

MARSHALL McLUHAN: — I heard, I heard what you were saying. You, you know nothing of my work. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.

WOODY ALLEN: Boy, if life were only like this.

Sometimes it is. Via Josh Marshall, Charles Krauthammer gets his comeuppance on some nonsense he wrote on stem cell research. Groundbreaking stem cell researcher James Thomson delivers it:

Krauthammer's central argument — that the president's misgivings about embryonic stem cell research inspired innovative alternatives — is fundamentally flawed, too. Yamanaka was of course working in Japan, and scientists around the world are pursuing the full spectrum of options, in many cases faster than researchers in the United States.

Ah, sometimes life IS like this.

You cannot stop the coming of spring

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Malalai Joya has been called “the bravest woman in Afghanistan” by many in the media. When you hear her story and read her words, you’ll know why.

Born in Afghanistan in 1978, Joya’s family escaped to the refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan in 1982 during the Soviet invasion. When she was 20 years old, her family returned to Afghanistan, where she became a vocal opponent of the Taliban and worked to establish an orphanage and health clinic.

In 2003, Joya was elected delegate to the Loya Jirga convened to ratify the Afghan Constitution, where she spoke out publicly against the involvement of warlords and was summarily dismissed.

Here’s how World Pulse Magazine reported the incident:

When her time came to make her 3-minute statement, she tugged her black headscarf over her hair, stepped up to the microphone, and with emotional electricity made the speech that would alter her life.

After she spoke, there was a moment of stunned silence. Then there was an uproar. Male mujahideen, some who literally had guns at their feet, rushed towards her, shouting. She was brought under the protection of UN security forces.

In a nation where few dare to say the word “warlord” aloud, Joya had spoken fiercely against a proposal to appoint high clergy members and fundamentalist leaders to guide planning groups. She objected that several of those religious leaders were war criminals who should be tried for their actions-not national heroes to influence the new government.

Despite the commands of Assembly Chairman, Joya refused to apologize.

Docudharma Times Tuesday Dec.4

This is an Open Thread: For the Curious

Headlines for Tuesday December 4: Editorial
Evolution and Texas: On Thrill Rides, Safety Is Optional: For Congress, election imperils balanced budget: Bay Area counties toughest on black drug offenders: S African miners strike on safety



Evolution and Texas

Published: December 4, 2007

Is Texas about to become the next state to undermine the teaching of evolution? That is the scary implication of the abrupt ousting of Christine Comer, the state’s top expert on science education. Her transgression: forwarding an e-mail message about a talk by a distinguished professor who debunks “intelligent design” and creationism as legitimate alternatives to evolution in the science curriculum.

In most states, we hope, the state department of education would take the lead in ensuring that students receive a sound scientific education. But it was the Texas Education Agency that pushed out Ms. Comer after 27 years as a science teacher and 9 years as the agency’s director of science.

On Thrill Rides, Safety Is Optional

No Federal Oversight of Theme Parks

By Elizabeth Williamson

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 4, 2007; Page A01

In December 2005, 9-year-old Fatima Cervantes and her 8-year-old brother boarded a Sizzler ride at a carnival in Austin, thrilled to climb into one of the candy-colored cars on rotating arms. But shortly after their blue car started whirling, Fatima slipped beneath the lap bar and was thrown onto the platform, where a metal arm crushed her head.

Since 1997, Sizzlers have been involved in at least four other deaths and dozens of injuries in the United States. Noting similarities in several accidents, a group of 25 state inspection chiefs requested in June that the ride’s manufacturer, Wisdom Industries, take immediate measures to prevent “an unacceptable level of ejection risk.”

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

An Interview with commonscribe Before Heading for Mississippi to Help Rebuild

Recently commonscribe posted a simple plea entitled: 14,000 in FEMA trailers on the Gulf. Finish The Job. That post sparked some ideas that are worthy of discussion for the entire group,  it also sparked the following interview:

(discussion follows interview)

This will be commonscribe’s third visit to help rebuild homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina so who better to ask about what is needed than one of our own?

NLOB:   Why did you get involved?

commonscribe:   It was more productive than screaming at the TV. Seriously.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

I remember the best sliding day ever.

The Episcopal Church next to the library had three parking lots connected with driveways that sloped fairly steeply.

Conditions were perfect, ice storm following a light snow.  When you came to the piles at the bottom of the last lot it was easy enough to crunch through the crust and slow down.  You were headed up slope anyway weinie.

Had perfect equipment too.  Runner polished and waxed Flexible Flyers.  Belly skates.

It was just my sister and I on this particular occasion and after the obligatory high speed suicide runs that day’s particular pleasure was how many 360s you could throw before the end.

We were adventurous sliders on our block.  The regular run took you through 6 hedges in 5 back yards before it dumped you spark shedding and grinding out in the street.  Special favorites got to use the popular kids’ ‘Devils Drop’, but I was never that popular and I didn’t like it so much as you usually ended up with your head next to a tree.

Paging Nightprowlkitty

This is not an actual post.  This is me requesting that NPK shoot me an email when she has a chance.  This will self-destruct shortly.

Nadler on FISA

U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York’s 8th Congressional District published an interesting piece on FISA reformation today-

The RESTORE Act Does What is Needed to Protect America

Jerrold Nadler, Huffington Post

Posted December 3, 2007  07:17 PM (EST)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Defund

If you have somehow gotten the impression that I’d be giving up on defunding, you’ve obviously been reading the wrong newspaper. Today I suggest you take a look at the  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s editorial page:

What the Congress must do now, if Mr. Bush continues to refuse the $50 billion with conditions, is simply to *pass no bill*, leaving the Pentagon to finance its activities with the $482 billion it has already been authorized. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and the contractors behind the scenes will undoubtedly squawk, and the Republicans will posture politically, but the Democrats in the Congress, whom the electorate has counted on since November 2006 to bring the war to an end, will just have to take the heat. [Emphasis mine]


Kucinich: A Kid, A Question and More w/poll

Dennis is coming off a strong week, where he shined in Iowa and battled in New Hampshire!  And tomorrow from 2-4 on NPR he’ll be debating again in Iowa!


Pony Party: Pickle Pics!

Ever since my faux pas this morning, I’ve been racking my brines to come up with an idea for another Pony Party. After a number of ideas that just didn’t jar with me, I finally figured it out. Eureka! {I do? Oh. I’d better change my brine}

Some choose to have Pony Parties that are a series of YouTubes. I have chosen a different path – one that is not obvious to anyone but me: pictures of pickles. I’d realized that I’ve been using the same pickle pictures for over a year now, and I’d like to get a few more.

So, bring on yer pickle pictures! {And, keep it clean, folks!}

Let’s start with the Party Pickle:

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